Sábado, 3 de Outubro de 2009
Introduction to my dissertation.

Here I am, trying to come up with a more decent post, and marking the beginning of my thesis project. Actually, it began when my kind tutors dropped five articles on me, to read over the week.



What's the dissertation about, anyway?


The easiest way to answer is to copy 'n' paste the introduction from the paper:


“Design and development of a computer game aimed at helping physical
education and sport science undergraduates learn basic Information and
Communication Technology (ICT) concepts”


And such game prototype is to be developed in the Department of Physical Education & Sport Science of the University of Thessaly, in Greece.


According to this paper, there's a course called "Computers" being taught to the freshmen of the mentioned University. They learn about computers (as obvious), hardware and software, Internet, etc.

Dr. Marina Papastergiou, my soon-to-be thesis mentor, teaches this class, and she writes in this paper (and I'll quote), that her "previous experiences of teaching conceptual topics in lecture format to non-computer science undergraduates have shown her that students soon get bored and look forward to actually using computers and the Internet."


We've all been there, right? And she's aware of this problem, and is looking for alternatives to keep students motivated while learning. And what's one of the best ways of fighting boredom? Games!

Educational games have been used in classes, but its results are not always recorded to later study. So, Dr. Papastergiou's goal is to create a game (the first level, at least) containing course material, and get two groups of students: one will be using the game, the other will use traditional teaching methods. That way, it will be possible to compare the results, and support the investigation about educational gaming.


And guess who's the wannabe designer who'll help create this game?



Why did you choose this project?


This was my first option when I sent the email to the teachers for the project selection process.


First of all, I love games, and I was really looking forward to work on something related to games for the thesis. My career objectives involve working in videogame studios as a Concept/2D/3D Artist or Game Designer.

And while I don't have good impressions of certain so called "educational games" you see in the market, I do believe in games as a fundamental part in a learning process, keeping the students motivated while they learn.


And it's in Greece, an excellent oportunity to visit a country with a solid civilization history and mythology, while working on my thesis.



What title would you give to your project right now?


Good question. The only option I have thought of so far is "Teaching ICT (Information and Communication Technology) concepts via Digital Game-Based Learning methods."

It won't be too far from that concept.



What I'm doing to do:


- Learn greek, or I won't survive for too long in Greece. If all goes well, I'll spend my first month in Thessaloniki, under an intensive greek language course, then I'll move to Trikala to work on the project;


- Lots of drawings for sure, from concept art of possible characters in the game and scenarios, to storyboards. Hopefully, I'll have a couple of sketches ready to take with me;


- And build a decent theory part for my thesis, by searching over other similar projects and written articles;


- Establish a daily/weekly schedule, be more organized;


- Visit historical sites and Athens' ruins... what, they could be inspirational. And I'll fill SAPO Campus with lots of photos and videos, no worries!



What I'm -not- going to do:


- Avoid informal statements in the thesis. I hate being formal, but it has to be done, I can't post images from xkcd.com this time.

However, don't expect me to be too formal on this blog. Oh no, not on the internet, baby~


- I'm not going to protest, rant about the project (ey, it was my choice), or at least, keep my grumpyness at low levels. I'll leave all the swearing for the thesis aftermath.


- Keep a -neutral- stand about the games subject, this is very important. While studying for my article about violence in videogames and how they affect gamers, I came accross too many biased opinions, even among academic scholars. It was all about "it's either A or B, it can't be both."

I love games, and it's my purpose to make this game work because I do want positive results, but I have to keep in mind things do not always work as we expect.


- Do not slack off, etc, etc, the usual stuff.



What I'll probably do:


- Learn a lot with this experience;


- Publish an article about it, if all goes well;


- Get a foregein boyfriend-*SHOT*


No clues about:


- How to swear in greek. It's fundamental, kids. If I'm going to ask for a sandvich, and I don't know how to say it in greek, I can't run the risk of having others teach me the wrong words, without me being aware of their true meaning.



Ah, and I'll stop here before this post goes down to the underworld. Expect another post soon.



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